A lot of people know Century City for what it is today: a fantastic part of Los Angeles, home to bustling streets, high-class hotels, great shopping and restaurants. But not a lot of people know the rich history that Century City is steeped in.
You might know that Century City is named after one of the world’s most popular film studios: 20th Century Fox. But what you might not know is that Century City owes its very existence to the success (or failure) of one of Fox’s biggest-ever movies: Cleopatra.
20th Century Fox and the History of Century City
Century City’s history reaches back quite a long time. Its origins could be traced back to 1925 when Tom Mix – one of the world’s most famous silent film actors – sold his private ranch to William Fox, the man who owned the small Fox Studio Corporation.
While neither of these men would actually survive to see the birth of Century City, there’s little doubt that they paved the way for it to come.
Over the next decades, William grew his humble studio to become one of the most popular movie production studios in the world.
Cleopatra and Century City
Century City was born just over half a century ago when the ribbon was cut on the city’s first highrise. However, before that, the land belonged to a movie studio that was renown for producing tons of high-quality films.
Fox moved their studios to the Century City land in 1928, after buying the ranch off of Mix. Within a decade, they had merged with Twentieth Century Pictures – giving rise to the name that we all recognize: 20th Century Fox.
Together, the minds behind these companies produced some of the most memorable movies that the world has ever seen, including:
- The Grapes of Wrath, from 1940
- The Robe, from 1953
- Cleopatra, from 1963
- Hello Dolly, from 1969
- Die Hard, from 1988
These movies were all hits in their own right, but the one we’ll focus on today is Cleopatra.
Cleopatra had the highest production budget of any movie at the time – a whopping 44 million USD. The producers took a huge gamble on this movie, hoping that they would make their money back.
The movie proved to be as incredible as the budget suggested. It won a number of Academy Awards, including Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects, and Best Cinematography. The movie still holds up in comparison to modern films.
Unfortunately, it terms of finances, Cleopatra failed the studio. 20th Century Fox lost tremendous amounts of money on the movie – so much that they had to sell the land that Century City now occupies.
The Birth of Century City
The land was purchased in the early 60s for $43 million, and the buyers named it after 20th Century Fox. The first building in Century City was Gateway West, which was opened on September 25th in 1963.
The original 20th Century Fox Studios remains in its original place, and many hotels, shops, and businesses have been since erected around in. Nowadays, Century Park is a fantastic place for travelers to explore.